Friday, August 19, 2011

No punishment needed for baseball umps

Everybody makes mistakes in their jobs. Some mistakes are just more visible than others.

That is definitely the case with baseball and instant replay, as umpire Dana DeMuth knows by now. He and his crew really messed up and were partly responsible for the New York Yankees’ loss to the Kansas City Royals Wednesday. Should they be punished for it, as the Daily News’ John Harper suggests? I don’t think so.

Yes, the umpires should have been more prepared and they should have known the rules. But they honestly thought they had the rules correct so unless there’s evidence of intentional wrongdoing or they mess up that badly again, they should get a stern warning from Joe Torre and leave it at that. If the Yankees lose the American League East to the Boston Red Sox by one game, I will be mad as hell. But punishing the umpires for an honest mistake seems like a serious overreaction.

BTW, I know some people are hammering Joe Girardi about not protesting the game (he is beating himself up a little bit too), but I’m not going to do that. In the heat of the moment, Girardi was more focused on making sure Mariano Rivera wasn’t thrown out of the game, which should be his priority in a game that close (I’ve never seen Mo that angry, that’s why I knew the call was wrong). Plus, Girardi rightly believed that the umpires knew the ground rules much better than he did. I don’t think the protest would have even been upheld as Major League Baseball is loathe to intervene even when calls are clearly wrong (witness Bud Selig’s refusal to reverse the bad call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game).

Let’s not crucify the umpires for this mistake, even if it cost the Yankees a game. I think the embarrassment is punishment enough. They won’t make the same mistake twice.

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